Rohingya flee refugee camps in Bangladesh, as Myanmar prepares for first returnees

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By Ruma Paul, Poppy McPherson and Shoon Naing

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh/YANGON (Reuters) – Dozens of Rohingya Muslim households on a listing of refugees set to be repatriated to Myanmar later this week have fled from camps in Bangladesh the place they have been dwelling, a Rohingya chief stated on Monday, at the same time as Myanmar prepares to start receiving them.

“Most people on the record have fled to keep away from being repatriated,” stated Abdus Salam, a Rohingya chief on the Jamtoli camp, some 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, including most have fled to different neighboring camps to keep away from being detected and compelled to return towards their will.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in late October to start repatriation of tons of of 1000’s of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to flee a military crackdown, although the United Nations’ refugee company and support teams say doubts persist about their security and circumstances in Myanmar ought to they return.

The repatriation of the primary batch of two,000 refugees is ready to formally start on Nov. 15 and officers in Myanmar stated on Sunday they have been prepared to start receiving refugees this week.

“It is determined by the opposite nation, whether or not this can truly occur or not,” Win Myat Aye, Myanmar’s Minister for Social Welfare and Resettlement, informed a information convention, referring to Bangladesh. “However we should be prepared from our facet. We now have executed that.”

Final week, greater than 20 people on the record of potential returnees submitted by Bangladesh informed Reuters they might refuse to return to Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, from the place they fled, saying that they have been terrified.

Bangladesh has stated it could not drive anybody to return and has requested the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to confirm whether or not these shortlisted are keen to return.

Firas Al-Khateeb, a UNHCR consultant in Bangladesh, informed Reuters on Sunday that this effort had not but begun.

AVOIDING PRAYERS

“Persons are so afraid of being recognized, they’re avoiding Friday prayers on the mosque,” stated one refugee, who has fled along with his household from Jamtoli to the massive Kutupalong camp to evade repatriation.

The United Nations has stated circumstances aren’t but secure for the refugees to return, partially as a result of Myanmar Buddhists have been protesting towards the return of Rohingya.

The UNHCR stated late on Sunday that refugees ought to be allowed to go and see the circumstances in Myanmar earlier than they resolve whether or not to return.

Abul Kalam, Bangladesh Reduction and Repatriation Commissioner, stated he was hopeful the method might start on Thursday.

“The return might be voluntary. No one might be pressured to return,” he informed Reuters.

Greater than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the sweeping military crackdown in Myanmar final 12 months. They are saying troopers and native Buddhists massacred households, burned tons of of villages, and carried out gang rapes. U.N-mandated investigators have accused the military of “genocidal intent” and ethnic cleaning.

Myanmar denies nearly the entire allegations, saying safety forces have been battling terrorists. Assaults by Rohingya insurgents calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Military preceded the crackdown.

“INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT”

The UNHCR referred to as for Myanmar to permit Rohingya refugees to go to their locations of origin or resettlement websites to make their very own “impartial evaluation of whether or not they really feel they’ll return there in security and dignity”.

“Myanmar authorities ought to enable these refugees to undertake such go-and-see visits with out prejudice to their proper to return at a later date,” the UNHCR stated in an announcement late on Sunday.

In the meantime, Myanmar minister Win Myat Aye stated preparations had been made for two,251 individuals to be transported to 2 transit facilities by boat on Thursday, whereas a second group of two,095 might observe later by highway.

As soon as processed, they might be despatched to a different middle the place they might be housed, fed, and requested to construct houses by way of cash-for-work schemes.

Returnees would solely be allowed to journey inside Maungdaw township, one of many three areas they fled, and provided that they accepted Nationwide Verification Playing cards, an identification doc most Rohingya reject as a result of they are saying it manufacturers them as foreigners.

Many Rohingya, who’ve been left stateless, oppose going again with out ensures of citizenship and freedom of motion.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul in Cox’s Bazar and Poppy McPherson and Shoon Naing in Yangon; Further reporting by Thu Thu Aung in Yangon; Writing by Euan Rocha and Poppy McPherson; Enhancing by Mike Collett-White, Michael Perry and Alex Richardson)

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